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The Phantom of the Opera (1929) Rare Scores Collection

Author
Time
 (Edited)

Overview:
This is an HD copy of the 1929 version of the silent ‘Phantom of the Opera’ running at 24fps, synced to a number of scores which are either not available synced to an HD picture or which have some deficiencies in their official release. The first four scores are performed by accomplished organists, the fifth is by a progressive rock band, “the Laze.”

Gaylord Carter     Korla Pandit       Lee Erwin          The Laze's Album

Gaylord Carter Organ Score: This score (recorded for Blackhawk Films) was featured in mono on an Image laserdisc and then remastered in stereo for the Image and Kino blurays. Unfortunately it’s wildly out of sync on both blurays, leaving the laserdisc as the only good presentation. I have included a re-synced stereo score as well as the original mono release. It’s a nice organ track by a prolific silent accompanist.

Alternative Gaylord Carter Organ Score: This is a different recording, also by Gaylord Carter, performed for the Paul Killiam Film Classic Edition that aired on television in the 1980s (this copy of the score is sourced from a youtube copy of a television airing). It’s lower fidelity than the other Gaylord Carter score, but is a nice performance, with many different creative decisions that set it apart from the Blackhawk Films version.

Korla Pandit Organ Score: This is a live recording of a Korla Pandit score, only ever released on laserdisc by Lumivision. Korla Pandit was an an African-American organist who publicly wore a bejeweled turban and adopted the persona of a French-Indian musician from New Delhi. He originated the television act later helmed by Liberace. The score is performed on a vintage Wurlizer theater organ and is lively and engaging. Somewhat strangely, the sound engineers for the 1990 laserdisc choose to dub in sound effects over the recording, mostly assembling a limited audience reaction track and some select sound effects. The audience reactions are clearly stock effects and, in my opinion, somewhat mar this otherwise fine track.

Lee Erwin Organ Score: This is a score performed by Lee Erwin for the Essex Films/Griggs-Moviedrome release. It contains narration for the ‘man with the lantern’ opening voiced by John Griggs, a Broadway and radio actor who collected and sold vintage films. It’s sourced from the reelclassic dvd release, which is a capture of a 16mm print and thus is fairly low fidelity. Still, it’s a solid score for the film, performed by another prolific silent accompanist, now synced to a high quality picture.

The Laze Score: The Laze is a rock group founded in Liverpool. Their score to Phantom is varied and well-produced. From the press release: “Influenced by a history of horror soundtracks, from Bernard Hermann and Angelo Badalamenti to Goblin and John Carpenter, The Laze implemented elements of Progressive Rock, Classical, Jazz, Heavy Metal & Electronica in their score. The band premiered their live soundtrack at Liverpool’s Picturehouse cinema, in the arts hub of FACT, on Halloween 2010. The sold-out, one-night-only performance led to further performances in UK cinemas, which concluded with a sold-out tour of selected Picturehouse Cinemas for Halloween 2011. Now they are bringing the Phantom into your home!”
This release replicates the version of the score available for free on their Vimeo page. You can purchase the album version of the soundtrack on the Laze’s Bandcamp.

Extras:

  1. Gaylord Carter - Image Laserdisc Intro
    The intro from the Blackhawk Films version of the film, which has an extended audio introduction over several title cards which introduce the picture.
  2. Korla Pandit - Lumivision Laserdisc Intro
    This introduction shows Korla warming up on the organ before his live performance.
  3. The Phantom Of The Opera - 07:17
    An excerpt from yet another recording of Gaylord Carter’s score to Phantom on a Møller organ originally commissioned for Reginald Foort which was then installed in a Pizza parlor in San Diego. From the album, ‘The Mighty Wurlitzer - Music For Movie-Palace Organs’ (1977).

Specs:
16:9 1080p 24fps 21gb MKV - Black and White with technicolor sequence and tinted sequence – 01:17:13
Aspect ratio: 1.2:1
Audio: PCM stereo/mono
Screencaps: https://imgur.com/a/PGZ21e5

Now available on myspleen or pm me (click my user name and then select “create a private topic”) for a link.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture - Director’s Edition HD Recreation
Duel (1971) - The Hybrid Cut
The Phantom of the Opera - 1925 Version Reconstruction - Rare Scores Collection

Author
Time
 (Edited)

Video technical notes:

  • As the various home media releases of Phantom have differing levels of quality, this edit uses the Kino, Image, and BFI blu-rays for greatest picture quality. I used many of the same techniques found in my 1925 Version Reconstruction and some new ones. I desaturated the footage to black and white, as I was not satisfied with the tinting in any version.
  • The Image and Kino blurays use the same underlying master. The Kino master is a much better encode with a better grain structure, but inadvertently crushes the black levels of some scenes while trying improve the look of the tinting. It also has various small editing and sync errors, mostly introduced while trying to fix splice marks. I created a composite by syncing the two together and overlaying the mid-tones and highlights from the Kino disk over the shadow detail from the Image disk. This helped me preserve shadow detail while correcting sync errors. The resulting picture is somewhat softer than the Kino disk, while still looking much better than the Image disk. This affords a good look to the film with less problems than the Kino or Image presentations on their own and in my mind is the best option outside of evaluating the picture on a shot-to-shot basis.
  • The opening of the film through Carlotta speaking to the owners is taken from the BFI bluray, as it digitally removes the troublesome hair that wiggles all around the gate. Because the BFI bluray runs at 24fps and uses frame duplication to sync to it’s soundtrack, I had to use a decimate filter and then carefully match the footage frame by frame to the Image/Kino source to ensure there were no frames missing.
  • Some shots in the cellars were taken from the newly discovered sound reel of Phantom on the BFI disc. It lacked the damage in the other 35mm copy.
  • Bal masque sequence: The BFI bluray has poor coloration. The Kino Bluray and 24fps Image bluray has frame blending from an incorrect frame rate conversion. I took the interlaced 20fps Image bluray and deinterlaced it, eliminating as many blended field frames as possible.
  • Rooftop scene: This is the only scene which I kept tinted to preserve the recreation of the two tone Handschiegl technique on the Phantom’s cape. The shots of Christine and Raoul come from the BFI bluray (better detail), with color correction to fix the rather poor tinting. The shots of the Phantom come from the Kino disc (better detail than the BFI, which uses a copy taken from an earlier Channel 4 restoration).
  • Finale: The Kino Bluray and 24fps Image bluray again have frame blending from an incorrect frame rate conversion. The BFI bluray is tinted so strongly here as to be indiscernible. Even color correction shows that there is no detail to regain. I took the interlaced 20fps Image blu-ray and deinterlaced it, eliminating as many blended field frames as possible. This results in a rather soft look with lots of dirt (the interlaced mater had no computer restoration done on it), but it’s the best the sequence has ever looked on home media.

Audio track technical notes:

  • Most of these recordings were not performed originally to the print they were synced to (the exception being the Laze soundtrack) and thus have sync errors even in their initial release. I have attempted to fix some of these by ear, but the sync is somewhat loose in general.
  • Also of note is that while most of these scores run at 23.97 fps (NSTC Color speed), the Kino/Image blurays run at true 24fps for some reason, and I didn’t notice the discrepancy till I was well into syncing the video. This is addressed by simply duplicating frames in some of the intertitles, and should be unnoticeable, but the resulting file does have more frames than other releases of the film and is probably unsuited to be synced to scores running at other speeds.

Track 1: Gaylord Carter Organ Score - Remastered Stereo
This track uses the Kino and Image releases to reconstruct the full score in stereo, although sections from the mono laserdisc are used at times.
The first Image bluray uses frame stepping to slow the speed of its ballet sequences and runs in sync with the new Alloy Orchestra score. The Gaylord Carter score simply runs wildly out of sync for the first half of the film until they cut it around the middle (it’s still out of sync for most of it). The Image re-release attempts to fix the sync by cutting it up to fit the picture, although the results are still not great. The Kino release uses the sync from the first Image disk in error.

Track 2: Gaylord Carter Organ Score - Laserdic Mono:
This is a digital capture of the Gaylord Carter Score as heard on the laserdisc (from a mono tape source). There are some sections where the score audibly runs about a second before or ahead of the action on the laserdisc and I have attempted to fix the sync on some of those. Occasional hard edits and tape warble are present on the original track.

Track 3: Alternative Gaylord Carter Organ Score:
Compared to the other tracks, this required more edits. The Killiam print used step-printing to reduce the frame-rate of the ballet scenes and the finale. For those cases, I edited down the soundtrack to the best of my ability to fit with the faster footage used here. The finale already featured many abrupt edits, so by shortening it, I was able to reduce their obviousness or eliminate them. The print also used the black and white version of the Bal masque sequence, so the soundtrack had to be edited to match the color one.

Track 4: Korla Pandit Organ Score
This is a digital capture of the original laserdisc audio (from a tape source). It mostly synced well and required only a few edits. While most of the laserdisc runs at 24 fps, one reel in the middle of the film runs at 20 frames a second; a strange decision made by the projectionist. I could have matched this in my video edit, but in the interest of not having many separate HD video files, I have simply sped up the score for this section of the film by 20%. The audio fidelity suffers somewhat, and the tempo feels a bit off, but it’s a decent compromise that only effects a portion of the film.

Track 5: Lee Erwin Organ Score
This score is sourced from the reelclassic dvd release, which is a capture of 16mm Essex films print. Being a worn 16mm print, the audio is scratchy, warblely and much lower fidelity than the other tracks. It also required more edits to match to the picture, although working with a noisier track means they were somewhat easier to disguise.

Track 6: The Laze Score
This score is sourced from the full video version released on vimeo. The score was synced to a video running at 25fps (PAL speed), which I slowed down to 24fps using sox for re-sampling (also preserving the original pitch). There are a few edits for sync. On two occasions I was able to use the album release of the score to get a clean beginning and ending to a track, making the edit much cleaner.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture - Director’s Edition HD Recreation
Duel (1971) - The Hybrid Cut
The Phantom of the Opera - 1925 Version Reconstruction - Rare Scores Collection